MINI Cooper: Manual or Automatic?

vzebrovzebro Member Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in MINI
We would like to buy our first mini and are looking at two, privately owned used Mini S types.

Car 1 is a 2005 with 20,500 miles on it. Premium/ Cold weather & Sports packages. Automatic transmission. Harmon Kardon sound system. From the pics looks very well maintained. I happen to know the owner and she is asking $24,000 but would let us have it for $22,000.

Car 2 is a 2004 also with 20,500 miles. John Cooper Works & Power Packages. Sport/ Cold Weather & Convenience packages. Leather seats & Navigation system. Harmon Kardon sound system. The owner is asking around $23,000.

Which should we go for??? I have heard that '05 is a 'better' car, but the '04 is so well optioned. Please advise asap as we need to make a decision within a day or two!

Thank You!!


  • coupahcoupah Member Posts: 18
    Tough call....
    Assuming the JCW has a standard tramsmission, That would push me over the edge.
    Navigation can be aggravation-not to say a distraction as well. Once you learn how to drive thses cars as they are intended, you won't be wanting to looking at a nav. Unless, of course, you're into rallying about.
    BTW, you're doing right by jumping in with an "S" model.

    Drop me aline when you choose!
  • vzebrovzebro Member Posts: 9
    It would push you over the edge which way??? I know a lot of people like the manual, but my husband commutes a long way each day and automatic may be easier?

    The navigation is more for me - my sense of direction sucks and I need it pretty regularly.

    When you say Navi is an aggravation do you mean that it doesnt work that well? We have a Mercedes right now and the navi in that car is very variable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Thanks for the response!
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 207,899
    ... and it isn't...

    I would opt for a brand new one with Sport/Premium/Cold WX packages and a six-speed...

    Somewhere around $26K, I think? For a car that will have full warranty and a maintenance plan..

    If I have to pick between those two.... I'd take the stick-shift..

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  • coupahcoupah Member Posts: 18
    Here we are!
    I meant to say was that I think the standard is the way to go. Yes, they are a a bit more work in stop-n-go but unless you live in LA or NYC, i'd still go with the standard.

    What I have HEARD (only) is that the Steering-mounted paddle shifter are loads of fun but they work best at higher (highest?) RPM and unless you live where you can wind it all day, they might not be a solid choice.
    I orig bought a 2005 MCC, "learned" to drive it and then ordered an MCSC "My Way": Cold package, premium #1, Limited slip, DSC, Chrono, xenon, front/rear fog, 16" Sport (got Dunlops) $29,900 and I love it! Around here on New England roads, there are few other cars that can catch it.
    That said, get an "s" no matter what!!!!
  • vzebrovzebro Member Posts: 9
    Ok, we have ruled out the manual transmission on a used car - too many people with major clutch issues. We're going for the automatic. We did take the advice of some of the people and looked at a 'build your own'.

    Now we have a choice of the following:

    Identically optioned cars. One new '06 for $28,615 or the '05 with 20,000 miles for $21,800.

    These are identical cars bar the year/ mileage. is it worth the extra almost 7k to buy new?
    I do know the owner of the '05 and know that the miles are virtaully all highway. She used as a commuter car just as we will. Any comments??
  • coupahcoupah Member Posts: 18
    i think you've gotten poor and misleading info relative to the standard transmission. The problems noted by users apply to the 2002-2004 models.
    The (newer) '05-'06 Gretag gearbox has high praise. I drive my S hard (I don't beat it or bang gears but I HAVE and there are no problems).
    imho, the Mini was designed for the manual and should be driven with one.
    I further suggest you join as get the true low-down.

    In any event and no matter what you by, welcome to the Mini Cult!
  • markjennmarkjenn Member Posts: 1,142
    My understanding is that the S always had the Gertrag boxes; only the regular Mini was upgraded from a Midland to a Gertrag box sometime in 2004 or 2005. It was these early Midland 5-speeds in the standard Mini that were problematic.

    I don't think the clutch has ever been a particular problem in any Mini, but the car is often driven very hard and/or abused and that takes its toll. And he CVT has come under a lot of criticism for problems over the years, especially the early years. So I would never judge the CVT to be a more reliable option than a 6-speed S provided you know the six-speed was not abused. If you don't know that history or previous owners, then yes, any manual transmission car is a bit of a risk. Another reason not to buy used Mini's in my opinion, and they're generally overpriced compared to new.

    - Mark
  • coupahcoupah Member Posts: 18
    Well stated, Mark.
  • thelibrarianthelibrarian Member Posts: 2
    Hi. I am seriously considering a new Mini S (would be 2007, maybe 2008, if I wait long enough). I JUST learned to drive a stick on a friend's car (so that I could drive one overseas on vacation). I stalled a lot on vacation but by the end, I felt I was getting the hang of it and I loved the feeling of power. My question is: Do you think a MCS would be a good car for my first stick? After reading some other posts, I am worried about driving it in the snow. We get a few large snowfalls in winter (Cincinnati). Thanks for any advice.
  • cct1cct1 Member Posts: 221
    First of all, I'd strongly recommend getting a 2008. The 2007 is new from the ground up--engine included--and Mini/BMW hasn't been stellar on brand new releases with regard to reliability. The 2005-2006 Mini's are substantially better from an overall quality standpoint than their 2002 predecessors--from such mundane things as the quality of the dash to more substantial things such as gear ratios. Let them work the bugs out of the car and engine the first year, then get a 2008...

    As for shifting, the MCS isn't the easiest car to shift, but it's not the most difficult to shift either (The plain Cooper on the other hand is easier to shift smoother than the MCS, but it's the nature of the beast). That being said, you'll be able to get the hang of shifting the MCS relatively quickly and easily. Take a 2006 for a spin; if you can shift it, you'll be fine--the new gertrag on the 2007 from every account I read is a better gearbox than on the previous generation MCS.

    As for driving in the snow, with traction control, you should be fine--I drive mine in the snow, you do have to adjust a little--the traction control makes takeoffs slow, but does a good job of preventing slides. Tires are very important here as well--at the very least, get all seasons if you're driving in snow.

    Front wheel drive cars do just fine with the occasional snowfall; you can also add LSD if you're really concerned, although it's really not necessary for snow alone--comes in handy for spirited driving though.
  • thelibrarianthelibrarian Member Posts: 2
    Thank you so much for the reply. I appreciate your comments! I think I could get used to the shifting. I actually learned to drive a stick on a 20-year-old Porsche, which I didn't think was that easy to drive anyway. My rental was a new Peugot, which was easier to drive all around (shift, clutch, and brakes). I don't want to be sliding around in the snow (or slush), so it's good to know that you think there won't be too much trouble. It's the one thing I really worry about with a car like a Mini, since I have zero experience driving a stick in the snow. Thanks for the advice.
  • cct1cct1 Member Posts: 221
    Good luck with your decision--let us know what you decide! On other thing about driving in the snow: once you're comfortable shifting, it's actually easier to drive a manual in the snow than an automatic--you've got more flexibilty in gear choice/shift points.
  • shel6290shel6290 Member Posts: 1
    Anyone know the 'real' reason BMW/Mini shifted their engines to Peugot? Had not heard about any reliability problems with the 05/06 "S" types only issues with the 02/03...?
  • cct1cct1 Member Posts: 221
    Several reasons...

    The Tritec (the engine in the earlier Mini) was developed outside of BMW by a competitor--Daimler-Chrysler, so here you've got a Mini, built by BMW, with an indirect link to Mercedes--that's a bit much for BMW to stomach.

    The new engine isn't just a Peugot--it was developed by BMW in partnership with Peugot; there are several variants of the engine going into several different cars (including the Clio if I'm not mistaken).

    The Tritec engine (which is in all cars from 2002 to 2006) is a great engine; the supercharged variant found on the S has won several awards. It's bulletproof--there have been very few problems with it, including the 2002's (the issues with the early models centered on issues other than the engine, perhaps with the exception of the dreaded yo-yo, which was later fixed with reprogramming). I love the Tritec, and the supercharger--I think it fits the quirky personality of the Mini better than a twin scroll turbo (everything has a turbo in this day and age). It's why I bought a 2006 rather than a 2007.

    But the Tritec has its limitations. It's not nearly as refined as the new engine, and probably more importantly, it's much, much more thirsty--for Mini to remain competitive in the small car market, it needed a much more economical engine--and the new one certainly accomplishes this. The new engine, by all accounts, is a better engine for everyday driving--it's quieter, more sophisticate, better mpg, and slightly more horsepower, and quite a bit better torque. It will appeal more to the everyday driver, which is exactly what Mini was trying to accomplish.

    Me, I'll take the relatively worse MPG--I'll take the whine of the supercharger anyday...My concern is that although the new car is more refined, it may be a bit too refined for my tastes--a certain amount of edginess has been removed from the car, which was one of the reasons I liked it so much in the first place. So for me, I'll take the Tritech, mod it (In fact my car is in the process of this as we speak), and pass on the R56. I bought my 2006 with the thought that I'd trade it in if I liked the R56, or keep my 2006 forever if I didn't--I've opted for the latter. I'll check out the R56 again this week in Chicago, and although I've seen one, I haven't driven one--but I've seen enough.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I'm about ready to pull the trigger on a 2007 manual trans base model. I'm also disappointed that the MINI went turbo---I'm not all that fond of turbo cars myself and combined with FWD, it doesn't work for me.

    The manual transmission base cars aren't available yet but I did drive the new automatic, and it's really a *great* unit with the paddle shifter. Better in every way than the old automatic!

    Also I agree 100% the new engine is much more refined than the old one (in the base car I mean).

    As for "new model blues" I'm going to lease and stick to a non-turbo, so I'm hedging my bets there.

    Now the BIG question...Mellow Yellow with black stripes and black roof or Chili Red with white strips and white roof?

    I'm not sure I really like a red MINI, but I"m not sure I don't :P

    PS: Someone said that the new manual trans has longer gears in first and second---can't verify this one way or the other yet.
  • minime5minime5 Member Posts: 41
    Mr Shift,

    You gotta go with the Red, or else you drive around looking like a bumble bee!!

    2003 Mini base Pepper White w/black roof
    53k miles
    100k smiles
    just had to get brake work done!!
  • cct1cct1 Member Posts: 221
    Red and white is classic, it looks great--but it is very common. Its ok if there aren't a lot of Mini's around your parts, but there are two red and white mini's in the parking lot where I work--and I live in a small town. I really love the combo, but I didn't want to be the third red and white mini in the same parking lot.

    I am not a huge yellow fan, but I have to admit the new yellow is very well done, and I'd probably go with that over red and white simply because it'll be less common.

    But, if I was getting a 2007, I'd probably go sparkling silver/black, and do it up with black stripes. I saw pictures of this, and thought it looked awful. Then I saw it in person--it looks stunning in the flesh, especially in sunlight or under lights. There is also an unconfirmed rumor floating about that it might be a one year offering, meaning it would remain a fairly rare combination. Its my new favorite color.

    Personally, if your getting a Cooper, that makes more sense to me than the S--I'd probably go with a 2007 Cooper over a 2006 Cooper, especially with the new valvtronic engine. But for the S, I like the 2006 with the supercharger over the 2007 with the turbo--the 2007 is admittedly quicker, but without the thrill of the 2006. But I added the JCW engine package to my 2006--gets me the torque I wanted, and the car is perfect now. Not exactly the mose economical way to go about it, but I'm hanging on to it until it dies; I just can't see ever getting rid of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah red is common where I live...also, it has that certain "Hey, Officer...yeah YOU...give me that ticket...I DARE you!"

    OH, just kidding. Color choice is somewhat psychological...being a somewhat....ahem....mature individual...bright red seems so "mid-life" crisis for a guy with a bald head. :P

    Almost everyone wants me to get the turbo but nobody wants to help me pay for's about $3K more I guess....

    But red is cute, I gotta say....
  • minime7minime7 Member Posts: 8
    I got the mellow-yellow with black roof. Without the stripes, I prefer to think it looks more like a little taxi than a bumble bee. (Especially with the checkered interior.) Have had for a week now (It's a 2007 S) and have had alot of looks and compliments on it. Six speed turbo is fun...reminds me of a 911SC Porsche I used to have (I think the Mini's a little faster, tho.) Stick is easy to drive on the turbo, although am used to reverse being over and down to the right. Keep putting it in sixth gear and then can't understand why it doesn't back up!
  • scorpio9scorpio9 Member Posts: 5
    Hello everyone!! This is a first for me. I ordered a 2007 Mini Cooper S Convertible late Feb 2007. Apparently, "My Baby" is in route to the distribution center and due to arrive 1st week of May even though I was told I would get it 6 weeks from the order date (NOT). I've had the same car for 11 yrs, 1996 Ford Mustang GT/stick and I HAVE YET TO CHANGE OR FIX THE CLUTCH. After reading everyone's comments I'm freaking out. You have all given me doubts about the Mini. I would have never imagined myself in a mini but after test driving the little sucker I was hooked- wow!! I haven't had a car payment in 8 yrs and I'm about to get into one so I ask does anyone have an 07 Mini S Convt stick and have you had problems with it? :confuse:
  • pharmd718pharmd718 Member Posts: 78
    Man!!! This sucks!!! I placed the order for my Mini S on May 15th. Currently my car is in the "birth canal". The dealer said 4-6 weeks. At this rate I won't see the car till the end of summer!! :cry:

    As far as the manual goes...I don't think you need to worry because its a new transmission all together. The dealer informed me that they have made extensive changes to the transmission. Mine is a manual as well.
  • bobbidbobbid Member Posts: 24
    Hi everyone! I'm just wondering if all manual transmission Minis have hill holder feature?
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    I had the opportunity to drive an '07 Cooper automatic yesterday as a service loaner. While the new auto tranny has eliminated all the low-speed lurchiness of the CVT, I found the lower gear ratios (especially 1st gear) to be extremely short. It takes no time to redline it in 1st gear. The worst part is that it produces more noise and commotion than motion! It also exhibited some gear-hunting, and downshifts were sometimes quite abrupt. Overall, I must say I was a bit disappointed with the performance of the new tranny. :sick:

    Does anyone else have a similar opinion? And I wonder if the tranny works better with the turbo motor, which has a flatter torque curve? Also, thinking back, the service loaner may have had the sport package, which comes with the Sport Button. So it may have been on sport mode. Perhaps taking it off sport mode may result in more "civilized" performance?
  • british_roverbritish_rover Member Posts: 8,502
    The MINI should only be had with a Manual transmission. I wish they didn't even offer an automatic.
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    Well, they have to have an auto tranny because too many people (my wife included) buy one only because it's cute!
  • darexdarex Member Posts: 187
    My 2005 MC is stick.

    I've often wondered about this.

    I never roll back on hills, and I refuse to believe it's because my technique is so perfect and I'm so talented :-).

    When I first learned stick, I lived in dread of stopping on hills, but now, it is irrelevant how steep the grade is.

    So, is there a hill holder feature? I don't know, but all I can say is that they're easy with the Cooper.

    I'm not sure how these are supposed to work. I can roll backwards, if I want to, but I have no urgent, dramatic starts off of a steep grade.

    Aside: I agree with others. The Cooper MUST have stick, regardless of where you live, ESPECIALLY on the base Cooper. It is part of what gives you your MINI love, and feeling of superiority (as in "confidence") over all the other boring cages. I mean this in the very practical sense, not in the immature sense. I live in a densely packed city with narrow streets, bad drivers, and numerous, daily challenges (similar to NYC traffic), and I never regret having stick. It's an asset, not a detriment in the city. If you don't live in the city, and you're just cruising along most of the time, it's rather a moot point in that you are in 5th/6th gear, or auto, and your left foot doesn't see too much action. Less fun!
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    "...but now, it is irrelevant how steep the grade is."

    Have you tried San Francisco? There is one street (Lombard St, I think), that was intimidating even with an automatic transmission car! :blush:
  • enjoymooreenjoymoore Member Posts: 2
    I am getting ready to order my new MINI, and I have all the exact options figured out that I want...the only question I have is what is the perfect color? I am leaning toward LIGHTNING BLUE...any opinions on white roof and white strips or black roof and black strips. Any opinions on what color you have would be appreciated. thanks.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    My wife has an 05 convertible, red with black top and white hood stripes. On the red, black just doesn't have much effect. The white shows up much better. On the blue ones I have seen, white looks better to me as well...but, that's just my opinion.

    I would ask you whether your preference is to be more or less noticable...white will definitely be more visible!
  • weinerdog1weinerdog1 Member Posts: 3
    Have you seen many of the other colors in person? If you're not able to, maybe have a peek at some members pix of theirs and get an idea of what some of the different colors and combinations(142 pages worth at North American

    It seems like many who opt for stripes get black, although I personally like the contrast of white or silver with a darker color. Mine is British Racing Green with silver stripes(silver is on the Clubman model, not white). The only downside with white is that the wheels(if you got that color) show dirt very quickly of course. Good luck!
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    The white top definitely shows up better with both red or blue (actually with most any color except white). But a black top with red gives the Mini a somewhat more sporty macho look, especially in Cooper S with Sport Package guise.

    (PS: I thought this thread is about Manual or Automatic?) :P
  • enjoymooreenjoymoore Member Posts: 2
    Thanks so much for that link....picture are great to see!
  • rik4rik4 Member Posts: 90
    best thing for you moore is to view as many minis in different colours as possible. when you see the right combo in your mind you will know it. if everyone perceived the same way they would only make one colour. it is proven that dependiing on what country you live in or are from.... you will favor the colours that make up your flag. ie red white and blue sell very well in the usa as well as in the uk.
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